Kaneland rallies to edge Morris


Kaneland rallies to edge Morris

By Rick Armstrong
Season Pass

Kaneland went big, literally, early in the second half Friday to help change the momentum. Then, the Knights held on for a wild ride to the finish in a 33-30 win over Morris.

Junior quarterback Drew Davids second touchdown pass of the game to Zack Martinelli, from five yards out with 27 seconds remaining, gave the Knights the win on the sixth and final lead change of the game.

The kids a trooper, hes a warrior out there playing with a hurt hand, Morris coach Alan Thorson said of the 6-foot, 175-pound David, who sat out the previous weeks game and played this one with his right wrist and hand heavily taped.

He took some shots from the hard-hitting Redskin defense, especially 6-5, 250-pound Danny Friend, but kept getting up.

We had to pressure him and the times we didnt pressure him, he hurt us, Thorson said. I dont know if it was bad coverage or he made some great throws, either way, give Kaneland credit for a great win.

David completed 13 of 21 passes for 207 yards and three TDs. Davids first score came on 59-yarder to Martinelli late in the first quarter of what started as a defensive struggle in the battle of Northern Illinois Big 12 East unbeatens. David also found Dylan Nauert in the fourth quarter for a 13-yard score.

The first half was all defense, Thorson said. I think the offenses were kind of feeling each other out.

The Redskins went to the break with a 10-7 lead after Zach Cinnamon answered the first Martinelli score with a 3-yard run to cap a 56-yard drive.

Kaneland was driving for another score in the final minute of the second period but linebacker Nik Countryman tipped a David pass and Josh Lincoln grabbed it and went 79 yards to setup Fernando Del Toro for a 34-yard field for the lead.

Kanelands Matt Rodriguez had field goals of 41 and 38 yards in the second half but the Knight offense got ontrack when coach Tom Fedderly went heavy with two linemen playing up backs in a wildcat formation and Jesse Balluff taking a direct snap that led to a 53-yard scoring run to open the third quarter.

We put our noseguard, Jaumaureo Phillips, who is 340, at tackle and had Justin Diddell, who is 280 at one back and Joe Komel was the little guy back there at 275, Fedderly said. We thought it could get us going and establish some rhythm.

Thorson said his team was surprised by the move.

We saw them run wildcat with Balluff last week and practiced for it, but they didnt have the big guys in the backfield, so that was a new wrinkle, he said. They got one TD off it before we stopped it.

Cinnamon, who had thrown only 51 passes coming into the game, finished 7 of 13 for 131 yards and one score, a 16-yarder to Anthonee Monson.

Redskin wideout Jake Hogan had two receptions for 62 yards and set up a Reese Sobol 20-yard scoring run by returning a Kaneland kickoff 63 yards to the Knight 32. He had a 90-yard kickoff return for a score called back by a block in the back penalty in the first half.

Cinnamons 49-yard scoring run down the sideline with 1:58 remaining gave Morris a short-lived 30-27.

Our defense really set the tone for us because the offense came out slow, David said. They helped us out and got us back on track.

It wasnt wrapped up, though, until the final play of the game. After Kanelands final score, Morris reached the 50 when Cinnamon hauled in a 19-yard pass from Friend after throwing a lateral to the tight end.

The Redskins quarterback was sacked by Ryan Lawrence and Sam Bower as time ran out, however.

Theres one of two direction we can go with this, Thorson said. We can let it affect us in a negative way, which I know is not going to happen, or we can get angry and take it out on everyone we play in thw playoffs.

Knowing this group and their character like I do, thats whats gonna happen.

Kyle Hendricks outduels Clayton Kershaw and delivers legendary performance that puts Cubs in World Series

Kyle Hendricks outduels Clayton Kershaw and delivers legendary performance that puts Cubs in World Series

John Hendricks sent a text message to his son at 11:24 a.m. on Saturday: “Good luck tonight!! Remember, great mechanics and preparation will prevail. Just let it go!!” It ended with three emoji: a smiley face with sunglasses, the thumbs-up sign and a flexed biceps.

The Cubs have bonded fathers and sons for generations, and Hendricks immediately understood what it meant for his boy when the Cubs traded Ryan Dempster to the Texas Rangers minutes before the deadline on July 31, 2012, telling Kyle: “You win in this city, you will be a legend. There is no doubt about it. This is the greatest sports town in the United States.”

This is the intoxicating lure of the Cubs. It didn’t matter that Kyle had been an eighth-round pick out of Dartmouth College, and hadn’t yet finished his first full season in professional baseball, and would be joining an organization enduring a 101-loss season, the third of five straight fifth-place finishes.

Kyle’s low-key personality will never get him confused with an ’85 Bear, but he delivered a legendary performance in Game 6, outpitching Clayton Kershaw at the end of this National League Championship Series and leading the Cubs to the World Series for the first time in 71 years.

Five outs away from the pennant, a raucous crowd of 42,386 at Wrigley Field actually booed star manager Joe Maddon when he walked out to the mound to take the ball from Kyle and bring in closer Aroldis Chapman. Kyle, the silent assassin, did briefly raise his hand to acknowledge the standing ovation before descending the dugout steps. 

After a 5-0 win, Kyle stood in roughly the same spot with Nike goggles on his head and finally looked a little rattled, his body shivering and teeth chattering in the cold, his Cubs gear soaked from the champagne-and-beer celebration.

“It’s always been an uphill climb for me, honestly,” Kyle said. “But that really has nothing to do with getting guys out. My focus from Day 1 – even when I was young, high school, college, all the way up until now – all it’s been is trying to make good pitches. 

“And as we moved up, you just saw that good pitches get good hitters out.” 

At a time when the game is obsessed with velocity and showing off for the radar gun, Kyle knows how to pitch, putting the ball where he wants when he wants, avoiding the hot zones that lead to trouble, mixing his changeups, fastballs and curveball in an unpredictable way that takes advantage of the team’s intricate scouting system and keeps hitters completely off-balance.

“Kyle didn’t even give them any air or any hope,” general manager Jed Hoyer said.

Amid the celebration, scouting/player-development chief Jason McLeod spotted Kyle’s dad and yelled at John: “You f------ called it!” John – who once worked in the Angels ticket office and as a golf pro in Southern California – had moved to Chicago two years ago to work for his good friend’s limo company and watch his son pitch at Wrigley Field. John had told McLeod that Kyle would one day help the Cubs win a championship.

“That was one of the best pitching performances I’ve ever seen,” McLeod said. “Ever.”

[SHOP: Buy a "Try Not to Suck" shirt with proceeds benefiting Joe Maddon's Respect 90 Foundation & other Cubs Charities] 

The media framed Kyle as The Other Pitcher, even though he won the ERA title this season, with all the pregame buzz surrounding Kershaw, the three-time Cy Young Award winner and 2014 NL MVP. Except Kershaw gave up five runs and got knocked out after five innings, while Kyle only gave up two singles to the 23 batters he faced, finishing with six strikeouts against zero walks and looking like he had even more left in the tank at 88 pitches.

“It was incredible,” Ben Zobrist said. “That was the easiest postseason game we’ve had yet and it was the clincher to go to the World Series. 

“He’s just so good, so mature for his age. He just has a knack to put the ball where he needs to. He’s smart and he’s clutch. He deserves to win the Cy Young this year.”

Where Kershaw’s presence loomed over the entire playoffs, Kyle has always been underestimated, coming into this season as a fourth or fifth starter with something to prove, and even he didn’t see all this coming. But big-game pitchers can come in all shapes and sizes and don’t have to throw 97 mph. 

“He wants the ball,” John said. “Every big game – I don’t care if it was Little League or wherever – he wants the ball. Plain and simple, (he’ll) get the job done.”

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